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Midwest Steel Wins 2014 TAUC Photo Contest

October 28 2014

We are pleased to announce that TAUC Governing Member Midwest Steel, Inc. is the winner of the 2014 The Construction User Photo Contest.

The winning photo was taken by Brad Hetzer, who served as Field Superintendent on the project, and depicts the construction of a new coker facility at the Marathon Petroleum Corporation oil refinery in Detroit, Mich. This was part of a much larger expansion project that increased Marathon’s heavy oil refining capacity. In addition to the coker plant, a sulfur recovery complex was also built, and numerous structures were added on to the existing refinery facilities. Fluor oversaw and managed the project, and hired Midwest Steel to handle a large portion of the structural steel work for the entire expansion.

Midwest Steel set most of the structural steel and placed many of the various pieces of equipment that were installed – vertical process columns, stacks, and pressure vessels. The logistics were challenging, but Midwest Steel worked seamlessly with the other subcontractors on the job. “All of the iron equipment and vessels were brought in on barges up the Rouge River and then unloaded in massive yardage areas,” said Hetzer. “Then we would have the yard crews pick what we needed, load the trailers and bring them to the jobsite. They were loading trailers nonstop.”

“To give you an idea of the magnitude of the job, we had more than twenty semi-trailers being hauled back and forth every day, and anywhere from 10 to 14 cranes working at any one time setting iron and equipment into place,” Hetzer added. “We had four general foremen on site plus all of the crafts, of course – upwards of 150 people total.”

The yellow girders being set into place in the winning photo are each around four feet wide, almost twelve feet high and 145 feet long. One weighed over 150,000 pounds; the other, just under 140,000. A lifting beam with a 140-ton capacity that was specially designed by Midwest Steel can be seen at the bottom of the rigging, just above the right girder in the foreground. Once the girders were set into place, they served as the railing system for a giant 86,000-pound trolley. Attached to the trolley was a 30-yard wide clam attachment that grabbed coke from inside the facility and placed it onto a conveyor.

“The picture is somewhat deceiving, because you can’t really see how difficult it was to get those girders into place due to their extreme length,” Hetzer said. “This wasn’t a typical grab-and-set. We had to partially set it in place with the crane, then back out probably 60 feet or so, move it into a new position, re-pick it and re-set it. The space we were working in was so tight that you couldn’t swing the crane to either side, because there was equipment everywhere.”

Ironworkers from Detroit Local 25 handled the structural steel work, and Operating Engineers from Local 324 handled the cranes. Midwest Steel’s portion of the project took more than a year and a half to complete.

“It was a tremendous honor for all of us at Midwest Steel to have been selected for this project,” said Tom Broad, Executive Vice President, Midwest Steel. “This was a very unique and challenging project that only the elite of the structural steel industry could undertake.”

TAUC congratulates Midwest Steel and all of the union craftworkers for a job well done!

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